National Geographic : 1966 Mar
day when I attended a trial at a People's Court, lowest in the Soviet judicial system. The defendant, a man about 45, was accused of buying a pair of ladies' shoes for $23, then trying to sell them for $28 to a girl at the end of the line. He denied it. "I bought them for my niece, but that girl begged me to sell them to her, so I was going to let her have them for the same price I paid." The judge interrupted impatiently: "Are you trying to tell us that after waiting in line several hours you were going to sell the shoes for the same price? That's not be lievable! You're a professional speculator; you've been in court before for the same offense, and your pockets were full of earrings when the police arrested you." The man finally admitted his guilt, but pleaded for mercy on the basis of his service in World War II. His sentence: two years in prison. Consumer goods may be scarce in Moscow, but cultural activities abound. The city's numerous theaters operate on the repertory system, and the variety of performances that one can see (if he has the time and money) is overwhelming. During one typical ten-day period, Muscovites could at tend no fewer than 221 different plays, 12 ballets, 19 operas, 12 operettas, 16 puppet shows, a circus, and 23 plays written 326 Showcase of a nation, the Exhi bition of Economic Achievements attracts huge crowds. Housed in templelike pavilions, the 100,000 displays in this permanent fair range from sputniks to laying hens, computers to milking machines. Streaming past the Friendship of Peoples Fountain, more than 8,000,000 visitors a year crisscross the parklike grounds in north central Moscow. Hoops of pretzel-like bubliki appeal to all ages at the exhibit. Boiled, then baked, the crusty rings ride like bracelets on the arms of matrons in scarves and chic young er women with bouffant hairdos.